Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Plain Sale-ing

This article was printed in my most recent Style By Caroline enewsletter. The advice is quite handy and timely, given that the Christmas Sales are cranking up with gusto. You can subscribe to Style by Caroline enewsletters on http://www.stylebycaroline.ie/.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Although I'm taking Roy Keane's quote out of context here, the sentiment is the same. Ever before you hit the shops, make a list of items that you actually need and take this list with you on your sale expedition.

The early bird catches the bargain
Sales mania is a horrible; all that pushing, shoving, disorder and heat makes for a most unpleasant shopping experience. Get to town early when bedlam is still in bed and you can shop in relative peace.

Dress appropriately
Wear comfortable footwear (preferably flat) and don't wear garments that have loads of buttons/fastenings. You'll quickly tire of changing rooms if you have to unfasten/refasten 10 buttons every time you want to try on an item.

Look for quality, not quantity
There is no better feeling than that of being laden down with shopping bags. There is no worse feeling of looking at a wardrobe packed with garments, yet you can't find anything to wear. Don't get carried away with impulse purchasing at the sales; only invest in classic items that are of good quality, well-cut and have no shop damage.

Try before you buy
Even though the queue for the changing room may be a mile long, make sure that you try on every garment that you intend purchasing. It may look good on the hangar but not on you.

A bargain isn't a bargain unless you really need it
Don't convince yourself that you really need something just because it has a "75% off" tag. Only purchase items that you really need.

Heed the conditions of sale
Before you purchase an item, make yourself aware of the retailer's conditions of sale. For example, most stores will not accept returns of sale goods.

Happy shopping!

Yours in style,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tried & Tested: Barbara Daly Make-up

"You're the spitting image of Dita Von Tease"...

"You have the most amazing lips I have ever seen"...

Just two of the most extraordinary compliments that little ole me received from total strangers in Nancy Blakes in Limerick last night!

Now, let me assure you that even if you crossed your eyes, squinted and wore your granny's bifocals, you would still fail to see any resemblance between me and Dita Von Tease. Nor do I have lips like Angelina Jolie for that matter. But for a few hours last night at least, my lips drew favourable comparisons to the aforementionned luscious lovelies!

"How? How!" says you.

Well, I'll let you into a secret. The lip colour that I was wearing was from Tesco of all places!

Usually my visits to Tesco are like a Dale Winton trolley dash; but yesterday I found myself with a few minutes to spare and so I made a beeline for the Barbara Daly make-up display.

Barbara Daly is to make-up what Barack Obama is to politics. She is amongst the most eminent artists in the make-up industry and has a dazzling career portfolio spanning 3 decades. Supermodels, high fashion magazines, leading photographers...you name them, she's worked with them.

Earlier this decade, Barbara lent her expertise, not to mention her name, to a phenomenally-popular diffusion make-up line at Tesco. Fast-forward to 2009 and the release of a re-vamped version of the line - The Perfect 10 Collection.
To say that The Perfect 10 Collection has been successful that George Clooney is average-looking. Beauty editors, make-up artists and shoppers alike have gone doolally over it; in fact, Tesco are having a hard time keeping the shelves stocked it is so popular!

And yesterday I got to test the goods for myself and see did they cut the mustard. Did they heck - look at the feedback I got above!

Caroline's 'TRIED & TESTED'

One-step Powder Foundation ("Warm Ivory"): This powder-based foundation is bang on trend at the moment and is certainly a high-quality product. As my skin tends to be quite dry, the powder formulation left me looking a bit parched. Also, the colour was a shade too light (even for my so-white-I'm almost-translucent complexion!). However, that is not to say it is a bad foundation - just bad for me. It would be far better on normal or slightly oily skin. Apply with a soft powder brush. No need for setting powder.

Cream Concealer ("Pale" and "Medium*"): Be warned, the "Pale" is very very pale. I know it says it on the tin, but even I (Pale McPalerson) here found it too light for my whiter-than-white complexion! The medium was a much better colour for me, so the lesson is try before you buy. Both shades have a yellow-base, which means that they work well for neutralising darkness under the eyes or hiding any red blemishes. I liked the creamy consistency (which is not unlike Bobbi Brown's creamy concealer) but some people might find it a bit heavy for under the eyes. Apply with a concealer brush (preferably synthetic bristles).

Soufflé Blush ("Rose"*): Ooh this blush is just gorgeous. I must confess I have actually had this in my professional kit for a while now and it is one of my most-used products. Great for giving a natural glow, it is easy to apply and lasts for ages. Great for cooler-toned skins. Apply with your finger tips or a small duo-fibre brush.

Soufflé Blush ("Whisper"): This is a slightly warmer version of the above. Super for warmer-toned complexions.

Cheek-to-Cheek Powder Blush ("Petal"): The lighter peachy tone has a very subtle shimmer and is wonderful for highlighting. The darker matte colour is a lovely pink shade and works very well over the soufflé blushes above. Apply with a regular blush brush.

Soufflé Eye-Shadow ("Sea Foam*" and "Driftwood"): Ooh, these are pretty. Creamy shimmery delectible little pots of colour. "Sea Foam*" is a silvery grey colour, with the barest hint of green. "Driftwood" is a shimmery bronze-champagne mix. Both of these colours are lovely but perhaps work best as a base for powder shadows as the colours are not terribly strong when applied. Apply with your fingertips or a synthetic eye-shadow brush.

Lipstick ("Gypsy*", "Watermelon", "Innocent" and "Sorbet"): I was super-impressed by these lipsticks. The unique square-edge makes them very easy to apply, the colours are intense and long-lasting, and the finish is creamy, silky and supple. 10/10 Barbara! Colour guide: "Gypsy*" = red , "Innocent" = nude, "Sorbet" = candy pink and "Watermelon" = the coour of a watermelon, strangely enough!

Shades marked with an asterisk(*) are those that I wore last night. I only wish I took a photo to show you the finished look. I'll recreate the look over the Christmas holidays and put it up here with a step-by-step application guide.

Yours in style,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pat on the back for BTs

Times are exceptionally tough for retailers at the moment there's no doubt. Our plundering economy, combined with a lean appetite for spending, has left our poor retailers reeling. And with only 8 days until Christmas, my retail colleagues are telling me that business remains far from brisk.

I won't be popular with my aforementionned colleagues for saying this; but for shoppers, the past few weeks have been a veritable joy! No rip-off merchents, no crowds and none of the harried service we experienced in previous years. We see retailers coming up with innnovative ways of attracting us and for the first time in years we are getting great VALUE. By value I don't mean cheaper products (although that certainly helps), I'm also referring to friendlier service, greater personal attention and an overall more pleasant shopping experience.

I'm particularly fascinated by the transformation of Brown Thomas from supercilious to super-considerate. This year has been an 'annus horribilis' for the retail sector in general but in fairness BT has reacted with aplomb. From the introduction of loyalty cards, to their weekly 'special offer' e-newsletters, they have made great strides in making their once-aloof brand more accessible and appealing.

And now I see today on the 'News' section of http://www.brownthomas.com/, that they have Brown Thomas Gift Genies in each store throughout the festive season who will assist you in finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones.

This is the innovation and value I'm talking about! I commend Brown Thomas and others for making a huge effort and recognising that customers will spend their hard-earned cash once they perceive that they are getting great value.

Hindsight has 20/20 vision; I believe that once we ride out the recessionary storm, we will look back on this period with grim affection. Going forward, I hope that retailers will continue offering improved value and will reap rewards from same.

Yours in style,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What if the Shoe Doesn't Fit?

I'm just after catching a very interesting interview with Glendon Lloyd - CEO of http://www.tszuji.co.uk/ - on the Seán Moncrieff radio show on Newstalk.

Fed up with the 'shoenami' (geddit!) he faced every time he opened his wardrobe, Lloyd set up Tszuji, a web-based company offering quality shoe storage solutions.

I have a chronic OCD approach to wardrobe organisation, so when I heard a mention of shoe storage I immediately galloped over to the laptop to have a gawk at the goodies on offer on http://www.tszuji.co.uk/. And I wasn't disappointed! The site is extremely impressive - offering a vast range of clear shoe boxes, storage racks (free-standing and over-door), handbag storage, heel protectors and insoles, with the added comfort of a "100% satisfaction or your money back" guarantee.

I was particularly fascinated with the Rakku Shoe Wheel (pictured below), which stores up to 30 pairs of shoes. This product retails at £64.95 (ex. delivery) and is available in either black or silver. There are discounts availabe for multiple purchases (up to 4). Regardless of whether you own 1 or 10 or 100 pairs of shoes, I strongly recommend that you store your footwear carefully i.e. in a cool, dry place and protected from dust. If you're very good, you should stuff them with newspaper to preserve their shape, and clean them after every wear (following the manufacturers instructions re. leather, suede, patent etc.) so that they are ready for their next outing.

Back to Tszuji, my only criticism of them is the name of the website - it took me 3 or 4 tries on Google before I got the spelling right. Nonetheless, the destination more than made up for the bumpy journey, so to speak, and I have earmarked at least 3 items which I will be purchasing as Christmas gifts.

Yours in style,


Monday, December 14, 2009

When the Coat Met the Cardigan

This season has been all about fashion mash-ups. First we had the "Snood", pioneered by Burbury (the product of a hood and scarf liaison), then jeans and leggings jumped on the bandwagon with "Jeggings" and now the latest fashion fusion is the "Coatigan"...

Essentially a cardigan moonlighting as a coat, the Coatigan has been a celeb favourite for a few months now and there are a plethora of variations on the market to suit every shape, taste and budget.

Broadly speaking, there are 2 main Coatigan styles - chunky knit (think 'lagging jacket') and slim knit (think 'cozy sophistication').


This chunky woolly number (pictured below) is from Warehouse, http://www.warehouse.co.uk/. It is deliciously warm (especially on a frosty day like today) but could you imagine trying to wash it? The weight of the thing!

Choose if: You're cold obviously! This style suits anyone who is narrower on top (slim shoulders, small bust) as the bulky material won't make you look chunky.

Avoid if: You have broad shoulders or a large bust as ths style will only make you look bigger. Also, avoid this length if your hips are wide as this hem-length will draw attention to your hips.


This slim-line version from Marks and Spencers may not have the cuddly factor of the chunky Warehouse version, but it's imminently more washable and, dare I say, wearable.

Choose if: You need a classic Winter Warmer to throw on over almost any outfit. Most people can wear this shape very well as it drapes the figure beautifully, and the soft belt draws subtle attention to the waist.

Yours in style,

I love 'LOVE Aprons'

If you are looking for a stylish Christmas gift for a style-conscious cook, then check out Clodagh McKenna's LOVE Apron range on http://www.clodaghmckenna.com/.

The selection includes three 1950s-inspired aprons (red, green and black/white print) - and new to the range is a navy vintage-style half-pinny.

The aprons cost €35 each and the pinny is €25.95. The price includes the fabulous colour-coordinated packaging pictured in the iddle picture above.

These aprons are stocked in selected stores nationwide (including Carrig Donn) as well as on Clodagh McKenna's website, http://www.clodaghmckenna.com/. I recently purchased a selection of these aprons from the website and I was delighted with the service and speedy delivery (Mr. DHL arrived on the doorstep less than 48 hours after I submitted my order).
Yours in style,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Swap Til You Drop

Are you a Stylista on a Recessionista budget?

If so, you might just be interested in a new store which has opened in Limerick in the past few days.

Be Fabulous is a high-end swap shop, specialising in new and nearly-new designer and high street clothing/accessories, at a fraction of the retail cost.

If you have high quality garments in your wardrobe that you never wear, why not trade them in at Be Fabulous. Alternatively, if you're looking for a gorgeous designer gúna without a designer price tag, this could be the place for you! With new stock arriving daily, I've a feeling that this place will become a veritable treasure trove for fashionistas and bargainistas alike!

Contact Details:
A: 15 Shannon Street Limerick (opposite the entrance to the George Boutique Hotel)
T: 086-3242818
E: mizinka@hotmail.com

Yours in style,

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box

Whilst larking about on http://www.bobbibrown.co.uk/ earlier, I happened across the brand new Bobbi Brown Black Plum Deluxe Beauty Trunk (pictured right), which has been released just in time for the Christmas market.

Ooh isn't it handsome - all faux leather and chrome and mirrors - it's like something I could happily live in.

Eh, except it costs an arm and a leg...nay, two arms and two legs...and probably a few organs too. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I discovered that it is retailling at £350 in the UK (which means that you won't get much change out of €450 here). And the leather isn't even real! Crikey eh.

Now, there's a lot to be said for having a good sturdy make-up case. Not only will it help you to keep your products organised, they're also less likely to get lost or damaged. However, a sturdy make-up case is a hard thing to find. Good quality cases, can cost anything from €200 upwards. In fact, I've seen poor quality make-up cases retailing in salon supply shops with pricetags of €80+!

I don't mind spending money on good products, but €200+ on what is essentially a box seems a bit excessive to me in the current climate.
So, time to think outside the box (if you pardon the pun)!
Enter, B&Q.

I purchased this B&Q Aluminium Storage Case last February for only €33! 10 months later it is still going strong. Costing less than 1/10th of the price of the Bobbi Brown equivilent. It's study, attractive and ideal for storing all my make-up bits and bobs.

Since discovering the merits of B&Q, Ive purchased a fantastic tool-pouch for €12, which is ideal for storing my 40+ make-up brushes and little plastic containers (that I can attached to my make-up brush belt) for storing disposable mascara wands, cotton buds etc.
Not bad eh!
Yours in style,

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Folly than Jolly!

I came across a bizarre story yesterday on http://www.ananova.com/ which is so outlandish that it must be true...

Doctors at the Harley Medical Group (major UK cosmetic surgery operator) have experienced an influx of women looking have have Botox injected into the soles of their feet!

Are they hoping to eradicate wrinkles in their feet?

Are they hoping their feet will sweat less? (Botox is often used to stop excess sweating.)

Well what could they possibly want Botox for then?
Believe it or not, they're using Botox to prevent pain associated with wearing high heels! This new technique is known as "foot fillers" and costs a whopping £240 a go, for results that doctors say only last 2-3 months.

Now, I love my high heels as much as the next girl, but would I inject a poison into my feet to eradicate the associated pain? Not on your nelly!

Instead, I avoid all toe woes with following combination;
  • Penneys' Foot Consolers*.
  • Scholl Cooling Foot Spray.
  • A supply of fabric plasters & Compeed blister plasters.
  • A pair of flat shoes in my handbag (if all else fails).
  • Basin of cool water (for bathing my feet when I get home).
*These sole-savers are just fantastic. Essentially each Foot Consoler is the same shape as the gel inserts e.g. Scholl's Party Feet. Like a gel insert, the Foot Consoler sits in your shoe under the ball of your foot. Unlike a gel insert however, it stays put by way of a secure, discreet strap. Another reason for favouring Foot Consolers over gel inerts is because they are made of cotton - which means that they don't become slippy, and as result there's less chance of you coming home with one/none of them! Best of all, they are an absolute bargain at only €1.50 for 2 pairs (available in Penneys).

Botox-schmotox eh!

Yours in style,

Stylish Gift from Style By Caroline

Are you looking for a stylish gift to give a friend or loved one this Christmas? Well, we at Style By Caroline have Christmas Stocking surprise that is bound to delight!

Style By Caroline vouchers (€20 - €200) are available to purchase on-line and the lucky recipient will be able to redeem their gift against any of our services, including;
  • Personal style lesson
  • Personal shopping
  • Wardrobe decluttering
  • Make-up application for a special event
  • Style classes
  • And many more!

Purchase securely on-line using Paypal and the voucher will be dispatched to you within 24 hours. If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to contact us

Yours in style,

My Experience at "The Wedding Experience"

Irish readers may not be familiar with her name (yet), but when it comes to event management across the pond, the name on every celebrity's lips is Tatiana Byron.

Byron specialises in organising extravagant events for the most elite names in the entertainment industry (think Mary J. Blige, Sean Combs, Diana Ross, Cannes Film Festival and so on), as well as organising weddings for high society names. And if that wasn't enough to manage, she is also President of The Wedding Salon, http://www.weddingsalon.com/, the world's premier luxury wedding showcase which takes place in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

No better women to headline "The Wedding Experience" at Adare Manor last Sunday then!

Organised by McEvents, The Wedding Experience is Ireland's most exclusive wedding showcase and Style By Caroline had the honour of being invited to participate at this event.

Five days on, I'm still struggling to find words to describe The Wedding Experience. I don't think I have ever seen anything like it. Genuinely. I've been to tonnes of wedding fairs in my time but this was in another dimension altogether.

Silver platters laden with delicate canapés and decidant desserts were in copious supply (why is food so much tastier in fun-size form?). Fruit punch and mulled wine melted any Winter chills, and as for the fireworks (see I told you it was extravagant!), well, put simply, they were spectacular. Imagine, all this against the sumptuous 'gothic revival' backdrop of Adare Manor.

The unanimous highlight amongst brides-to-be was the wedding preparation workshop hosted by Tatiana Byron. Alas, I didn't pick up any star secrets as I was based far away in the Gallery (and conveniently close to Sue Cummins, wedding cake designer, who allowed me to indulge in chocolate cake all day) but every couple I met was full of praise for Tatiana.

As the evening drew to a close, I had the pleasure of meeting the lady of the hour and I must say I was hugely impressed by her charm, wit...and fantastic clothes! She even happily obliged my request for a photo...

I'll be put the photos from the rest of the day up on the Style By Caroline Facebook page shortly. They describe the day far better that I ever could.

Yours in style,